Baltic state asks for permanent US troop deployment
Latvian President Egils Levits has called for a “permanent presence” of US troops in the Baltics amid Russia’s offensive in Ukraine. He argued that the move would deter Moscow from “aggression beyond Ukraine.” Russia has repeatedly stated it does not plan to attack any other countries, insisting that its actions in Ukraine were aimed at protecting the Russian-speaking population of Donbass.
During an interview with CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ on Sunday, Levits said a permanent US military presence in the region was “absolutely” necessary to combat what he said was Russian “aggression.”
“NATO should strengthen the NATO eastern flank, the Baltics, Poland, Romania, so that this would be a strong signal to Moscow that NATO is ready to defend the member states,” he suggested, adding, “I welcome also the American troops in Poland, in Baltics.”
We need a permanent presence of American troops in this area
Levits accused Russia of harboring “ideas of aggression beyond Ukraine” – something Moscow has denied – and argued that keeping NATO troops permanently in the Baltics would be a “response” to the alleged Russian threat to the region.
During the interview, Levits also claimed Russia’s conflict with Ukraine was “not only aggression against a state,” but also an act of “aggression against the West” and “against the Western values.”
The US and NATO have only ever had a rotational presence in the Baltics.
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said last week that the country would have to increase its defense budget in response to Russia’s Ukraine conflict.
Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk Agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.